Governors accepted to pay the minimum wage across board due to ignorance and intimidation by labour unions, Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano State has said. “They were intimidated by labour union as no governor would like to see the government come at a standstill as it (minimum wage) was not clearly understood by the governors in the beginning. And I can assure that if we had understood it well, probably it would not have been the same,” Ganduje said.
He said Richard Onwuka Egbule, executive chairman, Salaries and Wage Commission, clarified that the payment of minimum wage across board is a Nigerian phenomenon. The original conception of minimum wage, Egbule explained, does not have government employees in mind but was conceived to protect un-unionised labour-like domestic servants that cannot speak for themselves. “So, the issue of making the minimum wage across the board is a Nigeria factor. We have always told them that minimum wage has nothing to do with maximum wage. The target was not even state and federal governments’ employees because they have unions that can speak for them. The applicability is for un-unionised workers. It needs not be across the board. You can check this out with the International Labour Organisation commission,” Egbule said.
He said that the minimum wage is an aggregation of a worker’s basic salary, rent, meal and transport allowances, which cannot be disaggregated by any government. According to him, “governments cannot disaggregate this and begin to pay some part of it. It will be against the law. This is why I advise the labour union to go to the court to test this law rather than taking to the streets,” Egbule said.
By Dike Onwuamaeze